Reducing exhaust emissions while enhancing performance– a challenge Volvo Penta accepts

Within the next few years, the EU and the US plan to introduce regulations regarding exhaust emissions, and many other countries are expected to follow their lead. For a number of years, Volvo Penta has actively participated, through various organizations, in the formulation of the new regulations, and is now launching a series of products that will meet the requirements planned for introduction in Europe and the US in 2006. As part of the Volvo Group, Volvo Penta is also working purposefully to limit the environmental impact of all parts of its operations.
Throughout the western world, as well as in many other countries worldwide, consumers and industry interests have long since become accustomed to emissions requirements for the vehicles that use our highways. But when it comes to marine leisure craft, there are currently only a few local ordinances – in California and on certain lakes in Europe, for example.

But a change is now under way.

Stricter regulations in EU and US in 2006
In Europe, a draft directive on exhaust emissions is being prepared by the EU and will probably be introduced in 2006. It applies to gasoline- or diesel-powered engines used as inboard power sources or via drivelines on leisure craft up to a length of 24 meters.

In the US, there are currently regulations covering small diesel engines up to 37 kW. EPA Stage 2 is scheduled for introduction in 2006 and covers larger diesel engines for leisure craft. In regard to gasoline engines used as inboard power sources or via drivelines, general regulations are currently in preparation, but nothing has been finalized to date.

Several other countries, including Japan, South Korea and Russia, are working on similar regulations.
What effect will the new regulations have?
Kjell Persson of Volvo Penta specializes in emissions and legal requirements and is a representative on several of the committees within the industry that are working on emissions regulations.

“The aim of the work we are doing in the committees is to end up with similar – preferably identical – requirements in all countries. What we find difficult is adapting products and formulating certification criteria to conform to a number of different regulations. The best results for the environment would be achieved if the requirements were harmonized. At Volvo Penta, we have made a conscious decision to meet the international requirements that will be introduced in 2006,” says Kjell.

Given that regulations will vary in future, the question is how clean marine engines will be in the future.

“The requirements to be introduced in the US in 2006 stipulate low emission levels and, as far as diesel engines are concerned, will in principle require state-of-the-art fuel systems and electronic engine control,” continues Kjell. “However, if we look at the new Volvo Penta D3, D4 and D6 engines, all of which will meet these requirements, we can see that it is entirely feasible to combine low emissions with high performance. In regard to gasoline engines used as inboard power sources or via drivelines, electronically controlled fuel injection is essential to meet the requirements that are now proposed. We are also involved in tests in the US to determine whether it is possible to use catalytic converters in boats. This is a rather complex process, since, for safety reasons, we would like to cool down boat exhausts, while catalytic converters require extremely high temperatures in order to function. As regards outboard engines, the new regulations mean the end of the standard two-stroke engines; either four-stroke engines or advanced fuel-injected two-stroke engines will be required in the future.”

Most important of all – how will boat owners be affected?
“We take a positive view of future developments,” emphasizes Kjell. “People who devote a lot of their spare time to boats usually do so because they enjoy nature and being able to swim in clean water and enjoy a sense of freedom. I believe that reduced emissions and less noise can only be perceived as positive. What we need to do in the engine sector is to find technical solutions that both meet emissions requirements and give the performance that customers want.”

Environmental work more than mere regulations
Since Volvo Penta is part of the Volvo Group, the environment represents one of its core values. Accordingly, Volvo Penta works systematically on the environmental aspects throughout the entire life cycle of each product, and examines the environmental impact during production and use of the product and eventual materials-recovery when its useful life is over.

“Each year, the Volvo Group establishes various objectives that the different companies within the Group are expected to meet,” says Eva Axelsson, environmental manager at Volvo Penta. “The main objectives currently are energy efficiency, combined with such features as low fuel consumption and low exhaust emissions. This means that we at Volvo Penta endeavor to achieve the maximum possible power economy in our engines and drivelines.”
After many years of involvement with environmental issues, Volvo has gained substantial experience and know-how in this area. All production facilities are subject to an environmental standard, which, for example, specifies requirements in terms of a supervisory organization, maximum emission levels, use of chemicals, waste management, etc. All of Volvo Penta’s production plants also have ISO 14001 certification.

“Within Volvo Penta, we will be launching an environmental program for our dealers in the near future,” notes Eva. “Considering that we have some 5,000 dealers in more than 100 countries, the program could really make an impact. We are focusing on such areas as recycling, and we plan to award diplomas to those dealers who fulfill our requirements.”